Interview: Son Cares for His 100-Year Old Mother
Two factors are necessary for a mother's happy, healthy life past the age of 100: God’s favor and a caregiver son like Richard.
Richard, 60 something, does not seem to worry or sweat. His cheery disposition and debonair fashion (both constant) reveal a life of ease, causing one to wonder if he is specially gifted for his role. Then on hearing that for 15 years he has been the sole caregiver to his 101-year old mother, Mrs. Louise Isaac (plus his sister who is 12 years his senior) there is no more wondering.
Richard and Mother Louise Hanging Out Together
Richard, his mother and sister are natives of Cayon, St. Kitts in the Caribbean twin-island federation of St.Kitts-Nevis, where they presently reside. In 2014, Mother Louise’s 100th birthday celebration was a community affair, including government officials and scores of natives who flew home from abroad to participate in the historic event. In 2015 (February 15), she added another birthday and we invited Richard to take a bow.
There is much reason to applaud him in his answers to the following questions
Bordered by Caribbean Sea (west) and Atlantic Ocean (east)
(1) Richard, compare you life before with your life now as a caregiver.
“I have lived a full life. I owned my own business in the World Financial District just before 9/11; afterwards, I obtained business employment at the world famous Apollo Theater, and I had my own home.
I willingly left New York and came back to the Caribbean to care for my mother, because I wanted to ensure that she was as happy and healthy as possible.
My sister who also lived in New York wanted to stay with me after she suffered 3 strokes, and I told her to come on. When I left home at age 18, she gave me her full support, and helped me become the man I am today. I’ve been there, done that and now it is my turn to take care of my mother and sister.
I prepare their meals, clean up after them, do their laundry, take them to their medical appointments and anything else I need to do to make them happy and comfortable. I genuinely love them. They’re not interrupting my life, as some people think. They’re my life now.”
(2) Do you have siblings? Where are they in all this?
"We are 8 boys and 4 girls and I am the 11th of the 12. Some of my siblings are also in New York, and they thought it would be easier for everyone if our mom lived there. However, my mom wanted to live in St. Kitts. Since some of them were not keen on the move, I did it alone because my mother’s happiness was important to me. Now the others visit us here whenever they wish."
(3) What is the best part of spending this time with your mother?
"First, it was an honor to be part of her 100th birthday celebration. It was the thrill of a lifetime. Nobody can take that away from me.
She reads her Bible, her Prayer Book, Daily Bread devotionals, and she talks faith all the time. She is grateful to God, and she makes me grateful too, that she is still able to do most things for herself. She still sews and threads her own needle. I get to see firsthand what an incredible woman she is.
My mother still visits the sick and speak words of encouragement to them. She sings to them. Ship Ahoy is one of her favorite songs. Then she tells them about her preparation to meet her King.
She makes me laugh. She tells me, 'Richard, be sure that I look good in the casket.' She wants to be dressed beautifully, and she wants Lousiana-type music on the way to the cemetery. No sadness, only joy and praises to God for a long life, well-lived."
(4) Within this entire situation, would you say that there are any difficulties?
"My only difficulty has to do with my indecision to remain or not remain in the Caribbean because the medical needs of my mom and my sister may be better served abroad. However, if we move, it will be our united decision. Otherwise, I am very contented. I learned contentment from my mom."
(5) What do you say to other caregivers?
“Love yourself, love people, love what you do. Be patient, contented and generous. Give and life gives back to you.”
Richard Participating in His Mother's 100th Birthday Celebration
Meanwhile, Richard has also served his church (Cayon Bethesda Moravian) as an elder, and still functions as choir member, president of the Bethesda Men's Club and coach for the Boys' Club.
Both Richard's mother and sister agree that he is the most caring caregiver anyone could have. His sister adds that he gets firm with them only when he insists that they be punctual for appointments or events; and she does not hold that against him. For them, Richard is the only caregiver they want; for us, he is the model of a positive, efficient caregiver.
Are you interested in some of Mother Louise's health habits?
© 2015 Dora Weithers